Monday, December 29, 2008

End Of 2008 wrap-up Part II - Trailers and Posters

Best teaser: (tie) Star Trek and Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince
One was a subtle and chilling teaser, one that featured almost no footage of the lead and absolutely no shots of the young supporting cast. It was the kind that could only have worked with an established brand that audiences trusted. The other was a barn-burning hail Mary pass, a chest-thumping call for respect. Ironically both were for titles that were supposed to open this holiday season but ended up moving to the summer.

Best Trailer: Quantum Of Solace

The second preview, the full trailer, was a rock-solid action piece that emphasized human drama amidst the carnage. Call it false advertising, but the trailer gave pretty much every emotional beat that the film had to offer. It accomplished two things - it hid the fact that the movie was pretty much non-stop action and it's emphasis on drama allowed many of the action beats to be left unspoiled in the film itself. A classy, emotionally compelling trailer for a movie that fell short in both areas.

Worst teaser: The Spirit (B)

This would qualify as a trailer, except that it tells you nothing about the plot or the characters. It's just two minutes of hot women making moves on our hero, complete with 'come-hither' lines that were cheesy before high school. Proof-positive that Frank Miller apparently got laid less in high school and college than the average nerd.

Worst trailer:
Watchmen (B)
The initial teaser, released with The Dark Knight back in July, was a silent, visual splendor, ironically set to music that originated from Batman & Robin. This second trailer, however, had dialogue. Lots of dialogue, most of it on-the nose and not a little cheesy. With it's ample plot spoilers, its 'here's the storyline in the simplest possible terms', and its healthy sampling of Rorschach's goofy vocals (which sounded worse than Christian Bale's McGruff The Crime Bat voice), this had the odd effect of making a very smart story look very dumb.

Best Poster: Terminator: Salvation
Released rather recently, this is a rather nifty video poster. But, even taken as a pure visual, the final image is striking and would still be the best poster of 2008. Click on the poster for a taste of the future of marketing. Everything released from this film thus far indicates that this is not a cheap cash-in, but a real attempt to restart the franchise.

Worst Poster: The Dark Knight
Sorry sports fans, the copious Batman-centric posters from this Batman sequel failed to produce a single keeper (the single flaw in an otherwise perfect advertising campaign). But the worst offender ironically became the main posters. With its visual center of attention being a giant wheel, and Batman stuck in a silly stretched out pose, this pales even in comparison to the Batman Begins artwork (specifically the Batman plummeting downward shot).

Even goofier was the second main poster, which had Batman triumphantly standing outside an apparently bombed building that has a flaming bat-signal in the middle. Bad enough that the poster needed to have cheese ball writing on the top ("Welcome to a world without rules"), but the image by itself seems to indicate that Batman is responsible for the destruction in the background (burning bat insignia = gang tagging sign). The Joker-centric posters were deliciously disturbing, but no one was able to get an artistic handle on the main character.

Scott Mendelson

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